The Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator Aubyn Hill, says stifling bureaucracy and the high cost of cross border trade continue to hold the economy back.

Speaking Wednesday at a forum in St Andrew, Senator Hill says this has contributed to the massive annual trade deficits recorded by the country over preceding decades.

More in this report from Shaloy Smikle.

Senator Hill says the difficulties Jamaica has experienced with boosting cross border trade and reducing perennial trade deficits are largely self-inflicted.

He was speaking at a forum on Facilitating Competitive, Safe and Secure Cross-Border Trade at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters on Mona Road, St Andrew.

Stakeholders at the event agreed with Senator Hill and suggested several efforts that can boost cross border trade.

These include a revision of the Shipping Act, greater focus on the logistics hub, improved training and capacity building, affordable pricing for goods being exported, digitisation of services and real time access to information for transparency and traceability.

Director of Whiteshield Partners, Anthony O’Sullivan, was among those who addressed the forum. He suggested that Jamaica diversify its products and the group of partners with which it trades.

The World Bank, World Trade Organization, Jamaica Customs Agency, Trade Facilitation Task Force, Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited and Shipping Association of Jamaica, were all represented at the event.